The SCOTUS abortion ballet

“enlisting private citizens to do what the State could not”

abortionIt’s not that I’m happy that the Texas state legislature passed legislation severely restricting abortion. It’s that I’m unsurprised. I’ve come to expect dreadful things from the Texas legislature – see its recent restrictive voting bill.

These bills were signed by its terrible, awful, not very good governor, Greg Abbott, who’s always in fierce contention with Florida’s Ron DeSantis as my least favorite state chief executive.

The latest bad law in Texas bans abortion as early as six weeks. For women with regular menstruation cycles, they have only two weeks after missing a period to determine pregnancy. This is before most people even know they are pregnant.

Vigilantes

Worse, the state law allows anyone to sue a person or organization that provides abortion care or even helps someone obtain an abortion. As Truthout notes: “The drafters of SB 8 established a novel scheme to prevent lawsuits against state officials by privatizing enforcement and deputizing private persons to sue people who provide abortions.

“The bill gives any non-governmental person the right to sue abortion providers and those who ‘aid and abet’ them, financially or otherwise… Defendants must pay plaintiffs who win their lawsuits a $10,000 bounty plus attorneys’ fees. In other words, Texas is bribing its residents to sue people who help women get abortions.”

This variation on vigilante justice is not only constitutionally dubious but potentially dangerous to the potential defendants. The targets “could include anyone — doctors, nurses, friends, spouses, parents, domestic violence counselors, clergy members or Uber drivers.” Given the rage people have over vaccine requirements and mask mandates, this is scary stuff. As VoteVets noted: “In a state with fewer restrictions on guns than on reproductive health care, that kind of vigilante justice is pretty terrifying.”

Supreme Court punts

So I’m furious with the SCOTUS abortion ballet. In a one-paragraph, unsigned order, the court acknowledged that the providers had “raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law.” But that was not enough to stop the law from going into effect. The court explained it’s because of the way the law operates.

Specifically, the court observed, it wasn’t clear whether the state officials – a judge and court clerk – and the anti-abortion activist whom the abortion providers had named as defendants “can or will seek to enforce the Texas law” against the providers in a way that would allow the court to get involved in the dispute at this stage.”

That’s legal mumbo jumbo for BS. As Chief Justice John Roberts notes, SCOTUS has allowed the state to allow the implementation of a law that could be unconstitutional. “The Court’s order is emphatic in making clear that it cannot be understood as sustaining the constitutionality of the law at issue.”

As Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained in dissent, the Texas “Legislature took the extraordinary step of enlisting private citizens to do what the State could not…The Court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligation to not only protect the rights of women but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law.”

Onerous

In a state that leads the country and much of the developed world in the rate of maternal mortality, women in Texas will now have to travel to another state to secure an abortion or resort to life-threatening back-alley coat-hanger abortions. There is no exception for rape or incest.

Biden said the Court’s [in]action in Woman’s Whole Health “unleashes unconstitutional chaos and empowers self-anointed enforcers to have devastating impacts.” He added, “Complete strangers will now be empowered to inject themselves in the most private and personal health decisions faced by women.”

Future

Does this mean that Roe v. Wade has been overturned? Not necessarily. This was a wuss non-action by SCOTUS. The Court will address Roe in a  Mississippi case soon. The Court’s actions in Texas DOES make me nervous about Roe’s future.

It’d be nice if Congress would pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, but I’m not encouraged. 

Recent anti-abortion laws: ignorance is no obstacle

“The sin to me is bringing a child into this world and not taking care of them.”

women.abortionI checked. The last time I mentioned abortion in this blog was in 2009. And THAT was about its representation on television.

I wouldn’t have taken it on now except for the fact that the perpetrators of recent laws weren’t just confused about what exactly their bills do — “they were proud of their cluelessness.” As a New York Times opinion piece noted, America’s Leaders Need Sex Ed. “For those who want to regulate women’s bodies, ignorance has been no obstacle.”

Oh, and there’s right to privacy angle too.

In Georgia, the six-week law is scheduled to go into effect in January 2020. women who terminate their pregnancies would receive life in prison. This law would also criminalize healthcare providers, like doctors and nurses, providing the procedure.

Moreover, Georgians who seek abortions outside of the state may be charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Anyone who helps the pregnant person complete the journey, such as by driving them to a clinic, may also be charged with conspiracy.

“And a woman who miscarries because of her own conduct—say, using drugs while pregnant—would be liable for second-degree murder” Exactly how is this latter provision supposed to work?

Roughly 15 to 20 percent of all pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, “defined as the loss of a fetus before the 20th week. The majority of miscarriages occur within the first seven weeks of pregnancy.” A woman having a miscarriage is supposed to suffer the additional stress of proving – to whom, and how? – that she didn’t have a drink after dinner?

The US Supreme Court held in Roe v. Wade, and elsewhere, that the Due Process clause of the US Constitution includes a certain amount to privacy. And this right should mean that the government should not intrude in such delicate affairs.

The Georgia law also bestows personhood to a fetus, “entitled to all the protection of all the laws of Georgia.” That means they’re counted in the Census? If they’re American citizens, they can’t be deported if mom is there illegally, I presume. All sorts of legal landmines there.

Alabama did Georgia one better. Their law, going into effect in six months, would effectively ban abortion in the state. It criminalizes the procedure for doctors who provide them, and they could face up to 99 years in prison. The legislation doesn’t include an exception for cases of rape or incest.

The hypocrisy is strong. As reported in Newsweek, AL “State Senator Linda Coleman-Madison proposed an amendment to the bill that would require the state to provide free prenatal and medical care for mothers who had been denied an abortion by the new law. Her amendment was struck down by a vote of 23-6.

“‘The sin to me is bringing a child into this world and not taking care of them,” Coleman-Madison said. “The sin for me is that this state does not provide adequate care. We don’t provide education. And then when the child is born and we know that mother is indigent and she cannot take care of that child, we don’t provide any support systems for that mother.”

Here’s NOT a surprise: States with the worst anti-abortion laws also have the worst infant mortality rates.

A friend asked an interesting question: Women have used the seeds from Daucus carota, commonly known as wild carrot or Queen Anne’s lace, for centuries as a contraceptive. “The earliest written reference dates back to the late 5th or 4th century B.C. appearing in a work written by Hippocrates.”

If Queen Anne’s lace is used after intercourse – as a morning-after pill, essentially – how would the laws deal with that, since pregnancy would not yet be confirmable? This is also relevant to other birth control methods, notably the IUD.

It’s not just the South doing stupid stuff. In April, Ohio also passed a bill that would ban abortion at as early as six weeks. Now, the Ohio state House is considering a bill that would limit health insurance coverage for abortion services and also bar coverage for many forms of birth control.

It has a doozy of a provision that allows an ectopic pregnancy fetus to be removed from the Fallopian tubes and inserted into the uterus, a procedure that DOES NOT EXIST.

GOPUSA notes that such “bills have almost no chance of surviving the inevitable lower-court challenges, but that’s the point. Republican lawmakers are spoiling for a legal fight, hoping that their state’s pro-life bill will become the vehicle for the high court’s 5-4 conservative majority to put the brakes on Roe.

With restrictions on abortion, and, foolishly, contraception, being passed or considered across US, the goal isn’t to end up with the heartbeat bills, but to continue to chip away at women’s rights.

Yet, only 18 percent of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in all instances, according to a Gallup poll. Nearly six in 10 Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to Pew.

In response: #YouKnowMe: an online movement in which thousands of woman have come forward to put a human face to the figure that one in four women get an abortion in their lifetimes.

August rambling: Porn stars, Playmates, prayer

A Sinkhole of Sleaze

Trump crossing the swamp
After this


Why Fascism Has the Power to Seduce the Broken

John Oliver Confronts Fake Grassroots Movements

In 2008, America Stopped Believing in the American Dream

When That “Feel-Good” Story Really Ought To Make You Throw Up

Who Chooses Abortion?

Ken Screven – The Conscience of the Newsroom

The Scientific Case for Two Spaces After a Period

On Prepositions

Joe Biden’s LGBTQ acceptance initiative

Walter Ayres: Pope Francis and the death penalty

Vlogbrothers: How Do Adults Make Friends? and How I Made Friends

Terry Crews Made A PSA With Samantha Bee To Illustrate Why Sexual Assault Jokes Really Aren’t Funny

Treating Golfer’s Elbow And How To Prevent It

The seven original cast members of Saturday Night Live inducted into the Television Hall of Fame

Dick Cavett in the digital age

Alan Alda (and Leonard Maltin) Diagnosed With Parkinson’s

Amy Meselson, Lawyer Who Defended Young Immigrants, Dies at 46

Charlotte Rae, R.I.P.

Steve Jobs and Chrisann Brennan were 23 when their daughter, Lisa, was born

How an Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Stole Millions

The end of Campbell’s Soup?

Embracing päntsdrunk, the Finnish way of drinking alone in your underwear

The mind-bendy weirdness of the number zero, explained

Now I Know: Who You Gonna Call? Not This Ghostbuster and The Blood*, Sweat, and Tears of English Rugby Players and Why You Can’t Visit Liberty’s Torch and Why the National Animal of Scotland is… Wait, Really?

Players from Sesame Street read great lines from the movies

Christopher Lee and Jane Seymour

THE SWAMP

A Sinkhole of Sleaze

Week of Corruption Scandals: A Closer Look

Why Betsy DeVos shuns the American flag on her 40-foot yacht

PORN STARS, PLAYMATES, AND PRAYER CIRCLES

Mike Pence – Holy Terror and has drastically lowered his moral standard for a President

John Oliver: the next issue of Stupid Watergate

How ICE was radicalized

How the regime misled the public on poverty

EPA is now allowing asbestos back into manufacturing

The Quislings of American Collapse

The Constitutional Con

His Foreign Policy Held Back by Struggle to Grasp Time Zones, Maps

Boston Globe Calls For A Nationwide Response To Attacks On The Press

MUSIC

The anthem of the Republic of Tyva in the Russian Federation

Ohio – John Batiste, Leon Bridges, Gary Clark Jr

Vasily Kalinnikov – Bylina, an overture

“Africa” le Toto as Gaeilge

Summer Wind- Willie Nelson

I greet my country -Ahoulaguine Akaline featuring Bombino

Feel The Love – Rudimental, featuring John Newman

In the Mood – Glenn Miller (see Sonja Henie!)

Stand By Me – Bootstraps

Fur Elise – pianist Lola Astanova

The Place Where Dreams Come True and End Credits – James Horner, scoring Field of Dreams

Coverville 1227: Cover Stories for Kate Bush and Rush and 1228: Cover Stories for Whitney Houston, A Flock of Seagulls and The Go-Go’s

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Iron Butterfly); Cover by Sina

1-2-3 – The Electric Indian

My Dearest Ruth – Patrice Michaels (from Notorious RBG in Song)

The niece Rebecca Jade will be singing at five Sheila E shows this month, in Michigan and the Northeast

How the Beatles unravelled: Hunter Davies, the band’s official biographer, recalls the tensions that led the Fab Four to split

The Top 60 Female Artists of All Time

How God wants us to vote

“Any talk of using the Bible should start with a few acknowledgments, the first of which is that the Bible is not a book, rather it is a collection of books.”

KenScreven.plus
A little over a year ago, a few of the bloggers of the Times Union newspaper met at the home of retired television news reporter Ken Screven, in the foreground of this picture. All the other bloggers I knew: historian/environmental activist Don Rittner; photographer Chuck Miller, and Unitarian minister Sam Trumbore.

The person I did not know was Liz Lemery Joy. She was a very charming and articulate woman. Her blog focus is “A Biblical stance on political/legislative issues.”

In March, she first promised to write about Christians and voting. “We’re going to go to the Word of God, and I’m going to show you what God says about the political and legislative issues we’re facing as a state and a nation.”

Later that month, she declared that It’s the Christians fault our country is in such a mess, because they do not vote in sufficient numbers.

Finally, she described Ted Cruz, a breath of fresh air in Upstate! He is, she describes, a “level headed candidate, who actually respects the Constitution, come and address voters in our area. People in upstate are hurting economically and the power-hungry Albany machine has done nothing to help.”

Her chief issue, though, is his opposition to abortion: “How a person values other people’s lives absolutely determines how they will govern in office. Why? Because how they regard the worth of another human life, determines where their moral compass is and how they will carry out everything they do in political office… If a leader doesn’t value life, they will also disregard and be callous to other matters of governing and legislating that require principle and virtue.”

This, unsurprisingly, generated lots of comments, many of them unrepeatable. TU blogger Heather Fazio, who disagrees with Liz, solicited, then summarized some comments about Liz’s posts here and here.

A TU blogger named Michael Rivest declared The Bible does not tell us how to vote, pointing to the scriptural inconsistencies in the arguments of people from both sides of the political fence.

While I certainly would not come to the same conclusion as Ms. Joy did, I tend to agree with her premise, so I don’t think Mr. Rivest is correct either. Cherry-picking Scripture, one can “prove” anything, or nothing, about how God wants us to vote, or anything else.

Walter Ayres addresses this point quite well.

Any talk of using the Bible should start with a few acknowledgments, the first of which is that the Bible is not a book, rather it is a collection of books. It is more like a library and, just as libraries do not all contain the same books, neither do Bibles… These books vary in nature; e.g., some are historical, some are legalistic, some are poetry.

Many times, when people claim that the Bible says something, what they really mean is that a particular book of the Bible says something. Another book of the Bible may say something else.

This brings us to the issue of proof-texting, a method of claiming Biblical support for a position by choosing selected texts, often out of context, to support a particular position. One example is using select verses to support or oppose to the death penalty without regard to the original intent of the author. Proof-texting does not lead to good theology.
Bernie in ALB
And it gets more complicated…

In other words, interpreting the Bible in not always as easy as it might seem. People of good will can reach different conclusions. And we all should be very careful before we claim to speak for God.

What he said.

In a follow-up post, Ayres, who is a self-described Roman Catholic, quotes Pope Francis when he wrote: “An authentic faith… always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it.” He also writes about four principles of Catholic social teaching in the document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.

In the New York Times magazine article Donald Drumpf, American Preacher, Dartmouth professor Jeff Sharlet writes:

Drumpf…returns [faith] to the roots of Christian business conservatism, which is where he has been all along: Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 best seller, “The Power of Positive Thinking”…

“Positive Thinking” isn’t about serving God; it’s about “applied Christianity,” using God to achieve “a perfected and amazing method of successful living.” The method is like a closed loop, a winners’ circle of the soul. “The man who assumes success tends already to have success,” Peale writes, a tautological spiritual­ity as instantly recognizable in Trumpism as the drumbeat of his words: “success,” “amazing.” Peale’s message resonated most with the upper middle class — those, like Drumpf himself, who saw themselves as winners. The prosperity gospel recasts the same promise to those, like Drumpf’s followers, who feel lost.

On the surface, the prosperity gospel is a simple transaction. The preacher is blessed, and you can be, too. All you have to do is invest. How? The usual way: You give him your money. Only, your money is just a metaphor. The good news is that faith will be repaid in kind. The deal — belief in return for relief, belief as a form of relief — is as old as religion, too fundamental to human consciousness to dismiss simply as a con. Pray for rain, sacrifice to the gods, keep kosher — you needn’t believe to recognize the power of trading devotion for the hope of well-being.

My fortnightly church group has been slowly reading Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw. They write: “Christianity is at its best when it is peculiar, marginalized, suffering, and it is at its worst when it is popular, credible, triumphal and powerful.”

It’s no secret that on Tuesday, I’ll be supporting Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Presidential primary, who is the gold standard in presidential politics “on matters of economic equality, social justice, combatting poverty and human rights that Pope Francis has placed before the world and at the center of his papacy.” For ME – no, I’m NOT telling you how to vote – he is my clear theological choice.

Or maybe the “Ted Cruz” in this parody article is right, that Jesus IS too liberal to follow:

The most disturbing thing about Jesus, said Cruz, “is his obsession with caring for and hanging out with a bunch of losers, like poor people and homeless beggars, sick and unemployed people, strangers and immigrants (some of them undocumented!), and even prisoners.”

“I’m not making this up,” Cruz continued. “He — the real Jesus — is as radical as any longhaired punk camping out with street people in Boston or Philadelphia. If you don’t believe me, you can go read it for yourself, in the Gospel of Matthew, 25:31-46. Check it out. And don’t miss the part where Jesus says that showing kindness and generosity toward the least fortunate is the same as showing kindness and generosity toward Jesus himself. Now that’s just dangerous left-wing nonsense, worse than Obamacare.”

 

February rambling #2: The Man Who Mistook Jesus For An A.T.M.

A Beach Boy asks, “Why am I the villain?”

colbyjones

Sharp Little Pencil: The Man Who Mistook Jesus For An A.T.M..

What Happens Now That We Know Gravitational Waves Are Real? Compare with Introduction to the flat earth, how it works, and why we believe it.

The Latter Days of a Better Nation. For instance, Florida Legal: Man Shoots Young Girl Neighbor In Her House From Homemade Gun Range.

Looking Back BY Jeffrey Toobin, re: Antonin Scalia.

John Oliver: on voting and on abortion. Plus an interview.

The Apple/FBI question is harder than it looks.

simonpeter

How Writers Ruin Their Amazon Links (Yes, You Probably Do It Too), which is keeping unnecessary stuff in the URL; I mentioned this here.

What I Mean When I Say ‘I Have Anxiety’.

‪What makes a good life‬.

The Dark Underside of the Show-Dog World .

What Is Face Blindness?

Dustbury would stand up straight if he could. I SO relate.

Arthur’s dad would be 100.

The Uncanny Adventures of (I Hate) Dr. Wertham.

Now I Know: The Trees of Hate and The Science Behind the Slogan (Morton’s salt) and The History of Being on Hold and A Stinky Suit.

Muppet commercials from 1965.

Four Rare JEOPARDY! Scenarios. Plus Canadians Left With Questions After Being Barred From ‘Jeopardy!’

The obligatory Donald Trump section

I think he’ll be the Republican nominee.

How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable.

Inside the Republican Party’s Desperate Mission to Stop Donald Trump.

For Donald Trump, internet bullying is a highly effective campaign tactic.

America’s Agitator: Donald Trump Is the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

Why We Secretly Love Donald Trump (and Why We Should Fight It).

What it would take to build Trump’s border wall.

An Open Letter to My Friends Who Support Donald Trump.

Why I am Endorsing* Trump. Note the asterisk.

Nearly 20 percent of Trump’s supporters disapprove of Lincoln freeing the slaves.

Canadian island welcomes Americans who wish to move if Trump wins. Actually, they welcome people from all political stripes.

New liquid Trump and I know, right?

The other folks running

What that Cruz-Rubio ‘He doesn’t speak Spanish’ thing was about.

Neurologist explains why it’s hard to look at Ted Cruz’s creepy ‘unsettling’ face.

Why do so many people from Europe want Bernie Sanders to be the President of the United States?

Music

Bohemian Rhapsody – the Maniacal 4 Trombone Quartet.

10 Artists Who Hated Their Biggest Hit.

K-Chuck Radio: The Sugarhill Pulse.

Song stylist Nancy Wilson.

The Ballad of Mike Love. A Beach Boy asks, “Why am I the villain?”

GOOGLE ALERT (me)

Arthur’s Internet Wading for February 21.